Journal article Open Access
Art Style | Art & Culture International Magazine
This article focuses on electronic imagery in experimental film, and specifically examines the usage of the oscilloscope. The images generated by this electronic testing and measuring device reflect the techno-material setting in which they were produced. Their implementation in experimental filmmaking demarcates a site where electronics and cinematography meet. In order to better understand this arrangement and to identify certain practices afforded by this social and material environment, this article follows a specific understanding of the concept of affordance. Depending on the field, affordance has been framed in a multitude of ways, amongst others as a prescriptive design tool. However, outlining the concept as descriptive, instead of prescriptive, and focusing on its material and relational dimension is better suited to an analysis of how the oscilloscope has been used in filmmaking. By highlighting the material, functional, relational features of the concept, this article focuses on how this socio-technical arrangement enables specific uses. The aim is to determine affordances for a set of oscilloscopic and filmic practices: What does the electronic oscilloscope, understood as bound in a socio-technical environment, afford experimental filmmakers? First, I will lay out the term affordance with a focus on the ways in which electronic imagery can be produced by means of an electronic oscilloscope in order to specify the afforded practices in a second part. In the third and last section, I will present a specific example of an experimental film that incorporates oscilloscopic imagery, Around Is Around directed by Norman McLaren in 1951, tying it back to the concept of affordance developed earlier.
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